Recycling has become the norm and in some cases the law in many developed countries in North America and Europe. In the not so distant past only plastic PET bottles and glass bottles were recycled in Barbados thanks to the Returnable Containers Act of 1985. Â Solid waste management and recycling has come a long way in Barbados and as a result we have become the leader in solid waste management and recycling in the Caribbean. All of the recycling and waste recovery operations contribute to building the green/conservation economy and train people for green jobs right here in Barbados.
This great achievement would not have been possible without B’s Recycling (previously B’s Bottle Depot), a local recycling company that collects, processes and exports recyclable material. In addition as part of educating the public B’s offers tours to schools and community groups. B’s recycles many things (and offers payment for some of them) including; all glass, all plastic (1-5 found on the underside of most plastics), metal cans (tin & aluminum), card board (including cereal boxes), all metals (ferrous & non-ferrous), automotive batteries, e-waste (all electronics) and electric wire (including old phone and computer chords). According the Troy Johnson the plant manager of B’s Recycling the idea behind the operation is to “reduce the amount of solid waste going to the landfill and educate the youth and the community about the importance of recycling in Barbadosâ€. In addition to B’s Recycling there are a number of other recyclers on the island such as Ace Recycling that takes all office paper and magazines (please see attached List of Recyclers).
In addition to private recyclers the Government of Barbados’s Solid Waste Project Unit has forged a new partnership with Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC). This partnership has resulted in the creation of the Vaucluse transfer station in St. Thomas next to the Mangrove landfill. This Recycling Centre has been successful in diverting at least 70% of all solid waste from the landfill to be reused or recycled. According to Dale Cozier the operations manager of the centre despite the accomplishments there is still much to be done when it comes to solid waste management in Barbados.
Within the waste management business what Barbadians call garbage is seen as a resource not as something to be thrown away and buried. Recycling is not onlyÂ good for the earth and soul; it is good business. The foreignÂ exchange implications of recycling and reuse are substantial for aÂ small country like ours. The ethic that results from thinkingÂ seriously about what you use, how you use it and how it is disposedÂ of has substantial benefits for the community, business and country. In addition resource recovery and recycling is becoming more popular all over the world because of the escalating costs of virgin materials and the negative environmental externalities associated with our “throw awayâ€ society. Landfills are becoming outdated because of the threat that they cause to ground water, climate, public health, biodiversity and ecosystem health. In addition to these threats in small places such as Barbados that are densely populated and rely on tourism and investment for economic development we must consider the issue in a holistic manner.
The reality of the problem is that more outreach and education needs to be done in order to teach the youth and the community about environmental awareness and solid waste recycling and recovery. There are many programmes within the Solid Waste Project Unit, The Future Centre Trust and the Ministry of Education to teach about the importance of recycling. However holistic community awareness will not occur unless Barbadians become engaged and involved in the process by being required to sort their garbage and compost all organics. Only then will we become aware of the volume of solid waste that each Barbadian creates per day. According to the data from SBRC Barbadians are discarding 660 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day that is 5 pounds of waste per person per day which is higher than many developed and industrialized countries, for example the average American throws away about 4.5 pounds of garbage per person per day. This solid waste issue is compounded by our wasteful consumer society that promotes the buying of everything that comes pre-packaged, pre-processed and prepared for immediate satisfaction, gratification and disposal.
The problem with many blogs and articles that discuss solid waste issues is that they hardly ever give individuals and companies doable solutions. Attached is a guide to recycling in Barbados please use it. Stay tuned to this blog, more information on how your company can go green will be coming soon.
Written By Lani Edghill